The cuisine of Morocco is very diverse with many influences, as a result of interaction of Morocco with the outside world for centuries. The food of Morocco is a mix of Berber, Moorish, Mediterranean, Arab and African influences. The cooks in the royal kitchens of Fez, Meknes, Marrakesh, Rabat and Tetouan refined Moroccan cuisine over the centuries and created the basis for what is known as Moroccan cuisine today.
Morocco produces a large range of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables as well as some tropical ones. The country produces large quantities of sheep, cattle, poultry and seafood which serve as a base for the cuisine.
Characteristic flavouring ingredients in cooked dishes include lemon pickle, cold-pressed unrefined olive oil and dried fruits.
Spices are used extensively in Moroccan food. While spices have been imported to Morocco for 1000’s of years, many ingredients, like saffron from Tiliouine, mint and olives from Meknes, oranges and lemons from Fez, are home-grown. Common spices include karfa (cinnamon), kamoun (cumin), kharkoum (turmeric), skinjbir (ginger), libzar (pepper), tahmira (paprika), anis seed, sesame seed, qesbour (coriander), maadnous (parsley), zaafran beldi (saffron) and mint.
The midday meal is the primary meal, with the exception of the holy month of Ramadan. The everyday meal begins with a series of cold and hot salads, followed by a tagine. Bread is eaten with every meal. Often, for a formal meal, lamb or a chicken dish is next, followed by couscous topped with meat and vegetables. A cup of sweet mint tea is usually used to end the meal. Moroccans almost always eat with their hands and use bread like a utensil.